January 21st, 2019 and another celebration of the life of martin Luther King, Jr. has come and gone. The acknowledgment of all of his accomplishments, the tributes have once again brought his legacy to the forefront. But this year, unlike the other years, the question came to mind as to just what he would be doing if he were alive today?
He, more likely than not, despite his age, would be marching alongside the women for the Women’s March, or joining those who are providing food to the furloughed workers, or maybe he would be in Puerto Rico, helping and encouraging those who are still suffering as a result of the hurricane which devastated the island, or even petitioning Trump and speaking out against the wall. One thing is certain, he would not be sitting back resting on his laurels.
He would encourage all to stand up and fight against injustice. He would remind us that in the beginning, he was just one voice, but what a voice it eventually became, saying the things that so many of us were thinking at the time, but too afraid to say. Or not knowing to whom to say it, or how. Not that any of us should be deluded that we could ever fill his shoes, but we can follow in his footsteps. There is always the first voice, the first outcry, that creates a ripple in the ‘status quo’ pond, because one person, at some point, will hear it. And, even if that one voice is not successful, that voice is the first strike with a hammer against the wall of injustice. Silence is not an option, even though there are those who may ignore your voice, speak up you must.
Dr. King could no longer stomach the injustice not only that he was forced to live under, but had to witness. And, it is not a stretch to state that it made his stomach churn to the point that he could not remain silent. The amazing thing about Dr. King, he did all that he did out of love for all people and love for his country. His message of non-violence captured the world. And, his message and his example was to tell the truth, and thus, those who were perpetuating the evil status quo were angry when he spoke out and told the truth aloud, and not with a whisper. So tell the truth is what we must continue to do.
In our own lives, we must stand against injustice and unfairness, even if the odds are stacked against us. We must continue to speak out against it. The one small ripple will have an effect not only upon those who perpetuate evil and injustice, but also upon those who stand by and watch and say nothing at the time. At some point in their lives, they will remember your one, small, voice.
We know that our voices are not always heard. We know that even when we tell the truth, it is a lie which is believed instead of the facts/truth which we assert. And make no mistake in thinking that it does not hurt, because it does. So just would Dr. King have us do? He would never suggest that we remain silent.
How do we measure up? By challenging every lie, and injustice in a peaceful manner, through the courts, through marching, through petitions, but always peaceful. By challenging ourselves to continue to move forward in love, as hate cannot be allowed to rule the day. By moving forward with disciplined focus. And to speak truth to power without fear. A heroine such as Ida B Wells, who was one of the founding members of the NAACP is to be admired, as she, just like Dr. King, spoke out during a historical period when it was not ‘safe’ to do so but courageously spoke out and continued to do so.
We measure up by refusing to bury our heads in the sand. But, we also measure up by first having faith that we are right.
Celebrating his life is beautiful, but following in his footsteps in our own lives is a true tribute to his legacy, and will insure that his legacy will continue. Even if your stand is frustrating and/or painful, and does not turn out the way that you, as an individual, would like, it is still a stand, for even the tiniest ripple moves the pond and a ripple in a river moves the water forward, even though the impact may be small. Just remember these words which he spoke: “Truth crushed to the ground will rise again.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.